The Mayor of Palm Island, Alf Lacey, has urged people around the world to engage with #IHMayDay18, an Indigenous health Twitter festival that takes place from 7am to 10.15pm AEST on Thursday, May 31.
This year it is co-hosted on Palm Island by the local Centenary Committee and TAFE Queensland, Palm Island campus, together with Croakey, with the theme: Stepping out into Our Future.
In an interview, Lacey and #IHMayDay founder Dr Lynore Geia discussed the growing momentum for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s voices, from local communities like Palm Island to national movements as embodied in the Uluru Statement.
“I’d encourage our people and our non-Indigenous friends to support to put their support behind it (#IHMayDay18); these are the conversations we need to have, not only as black Australians but as a nation and as Queenslanders,” said Lacey. “I’d encourage everyone… our friends around the world, jump on board and support it.”
Summer May Finlay, who moderates the #IHMayDay18 discussions together with Geia, and who has just returned from the launch of the Indigenous Working Group of the World Federation of Public Health Associations in Geneva, says it is timely to be holding the event during National Reconciliation Week.
“As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, we’ve got to have a vision of what our future looks like, and events like #IHMayDay18 are important so that non-Indigenous people can hear what our vision is, so they can assist us to get there,” said Finlay.
This year marks the fifth birthday of #IHMayDay, and Geia said it “has been so amazing to watch the conversation grow and grow with respect for each other”, since the first #IHMayDay was held in 2014.
“It shows a strength and unity amongst us, and that nationally we are gong forward,” Geia said. “We are challenging boundaries. We are making space for our voice for our Indigeneity, in research, in constitutional debate, in community and economic development. There’s a sense of movement forward.”
Croakey readers are encouraged to participate in #IHMayDay18 (see these tip sheets for how to do this, for individuals and organisations, including universities).
It is a day for privileging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s voices; non-Indigenous people are encouraged to participate by retweeting and listening. Also read this recent article by Finlay on how to be a good ally.
Dr Lynore Geia – Introductions and welcome to Bwgcolman country.
Geia, Academic Lead – Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health, College of Health Care Sciences at James Cook University, is the founder of #IHMayDay and moderates the discussions throughout the day.
Follow @LynoreGeia and @IndigenousX.
Summer May Finlay – Indigenous leadership in global public health
Finlay, a Yorta Yorta woman, PhD candidate and contributing editor at Croakey, is co-Vice Chair of the World Federation of Public Health Associations Indigenous Working Group.
Dr Megan Williams – A future without prisons
Williams is Senior Lecturer in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing at the Graduate School of Health, UTS, in Sydney, and a contributing editor at Croakey. She has over 20 years’ experience combining health service delivery and research, particularly focusing on Aboriginal peoples’ leadership to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the criminal justice system and post-prison release. Megan is a Wiradjuri descendent, and also has Anglo-Celtic heritage.
Professor Peter Radoll – When education steps up?
Radoll, who co-hosted #IHMayDay17 at the University of Canberra last year, is the inaugural Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy at UC, and a descendant of the Anaiwan people.
The Hon Linda Burney, MP – Envisioning political futures
Burney is the ALP Member for Barton in NSW, and the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives. She was also the first Aboriginal person to serve in the New South Wales Parliament. She represented the south western Sydney region of Canterbury for the Australian Labor Party since 2003 and served as the Deputy Leader of the Party from 2011. From 2007 to 2011 she served as a Minister in the Labor government in a range of portfolios, including Community Services. She obtained a Diploma of Teaching and was the first Aboriginal graduate from the then Mitchell College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University). She began her career teaching at a public school in western Sydney in 1979.
Romlie Mokak – Creating healthier futures.
Mokak is a Djugun man and a member of the Yawuru people. He has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research since 2014. Under his leadership, the Institute is transforming into a leading research and policy impact organisation in Australia, while extending its global networks and partnerships. Prior to joining the Lowitja Institute, Romlie was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association for almost a decade. Earlier roles included Director, Substance Use, and Manager of the National Eye Health Program, for the Australian Government’s Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. He was the first Aboriginal policy officer in the New South Wales Government Ageing and Disability Department.
Associate Professor James Ward – A future free of STIs
Ward leads the Infectious Diseases Research: Aboriginal Health research group in the Infection and Immunity Theme at he South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), and has over 20 years of experience working within Aboriginal health and communities in Australia. He is a descendent of the Pitjantjatjara and Nurrunga clans of central and southern Australia and, in 2014 was appointed at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute as the Head of Infectious Diseases Research Program – Aboriginal Health. During the last five years he has progressed research in the areas of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs), vaccine preventable diseases and offender health. Watch this video about his work.
Minister Ken Wyatt – Stepping Out into Our Future
Wyatt is the Minister for Indigenous Health and for Aged Care. He was elected in 2010 as the Federal Member for Hasluck, an electorate South East of Perth, making history as the first Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives. Wyatt became the first Indigenous member of the Federal Executive after being sworn in as the Assistant Minister for Health in 2015. Before entering politics, he worked in community roles in the fields of health and education including the District Director for the Swan Education District, Director of Aboriginal Health in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Follow – @KenWyattMP
Kristy Pursch and David Field – Stepping into a smoke free future
Pursch and Field are members of the READY MOB Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyles team, and are passionate about raising the awareness of the health impacts of tobacco smoking and chronic disease in Aboriginal communities and promoting positive lifestyle changes. READY MOB is: Really Evaluate And Decide Yourself Make Ourselves Better. The name also signifies that the team is READY to work with the community to promote healthy lifestyles. They are based at the Galambila Aboriginal Health Service on the mid north coast of NSW.
Follow – @ReadyMob
Jennifer Ketchell – Bwgcolman futures are stepping up
Ketchell is a Bwgcolman woman, “championing our young people on country”.
Donnella Mills –Health Justice Partnerships
Mills is NACCHO Deputy Chairperson, and was appointed Chairperson of Wuchopperen Health Service in 2016. Wuchopperen, which has health centres in Manoora and Edmonton, provides community controlled comprehensive primary health care, social and emotional wellbeing and family support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Cairns region. Mills is a Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir in the Torres Strait. She is a Cairns – based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community. She is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership through a partnership with LawRight.
National Indigenous Cancer Network – Screen for your life: cancer prevention for our mob
The National Indigenous Cancer Network (NICaN) was established to improve outcomes for Indigenous people with cancer, including their carers, families and communities. NICaN brings together Indigenous audiences, cancer survivors, service providers, researchers and health professionals from a broad range of disciplines, as well as private sector and government organisations. NICaN was formed in 2013 as a partnership between the Menzies School of Health Research, the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Lowitja Institute and Cancer Council Australia. NICAN is a critical part of the translation of Indigenous cancer research into practice. At the helm during #IHMayDay is @Lisa_J_Whop, with RTs from @garvey_gail.
Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association – Focus on social and emotional wellbeing, and strengths-based psychology
AIPA provides leadership on wellbeing and mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For #IHMayDay18, the account is driven by Tanja Hirvonen is a Jaru and Bunuba (NT and Kimberley, WA), a psychologist, and a Mental Health Academic, Centre for Remote Health, a joint centre of Flinders University and Charles Darwin University in Darwin. Read more about her work here.
Banok Rind – The future is ours
Rind is Deputy Executive Officer at Koorie Youth Council, and a Yamatji-Badimia woman from Western Australia currently based in Melbourne. She is a Registered Nurse, and a strong advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and a mentor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth.
Jyi Lawton – Cultural knowledge to inform our future
Lawton is a Bidjara man with ties to the Gangulu people of Central Queensland and the Mackenzie clan in the North West highlands of Scotland. He spent nearly 10 years working in “Indigenous affairs” in state government, predominantly in youth justice within the youth detention environment. For the past 12 months, he has worked with Indigenous Business Australia leading a team across the east coast of Australia to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people start up and grow viable and sustainable businesses. He now works as the senior manager of industry engagement within Indigenous Business Australia, proactively working closely with the Aboriginal medical sector, and is also a current board member of the Queensland University of Technology’s Alumni Board.
Dakota Feirer – Yarning up prevention strategies
Feirer is a Bundjalung man from the south coast of NSW and a 3rd year Media and Communications student at the University of Wollongong, with a strong passion for improving mental health and suicide prevention – especially for young Indigenous men. He will be yarning up prevention strategies like support networks and programs, that work towards breaking the silence of mental health for young Indigenous men. He will highlight the work of the Illawarra Koori Mens support group, and the Babana Aboriginal Mens Group in Redfern.
Dr Tess Ryan – Leadership for health and change
Ryan is a Biripi woman from Taree, NSW, and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Melbourne Poche Centre where she leads significant aspects of the Poche Leadership Fellows Program. She will be tweeting from London, where she has been working with a group as part of the program. Ryan graduated in 2009 with a B.A. (Hons) majoring in Communications and Media Studies, and submitted her PhD in September 2017, focusing on Indigenous women and leadership in Australia. She was awarded the University of Canberra Medal for her honors thesis, ‘The push/pull indicators of Indigenous political engagement’, and she has received various awards, including the Charles Perkins scholarship, the Lorna May scholarship and the ABC Indigenous Media scholarship. Ryan has worked in social for at risk justice work children and young people.
Dr Robin Barrington, Kathleen Musulin, Bob Dorey – Hearing Our Past, Healing Our Future
Barrington, Musulin and Dorey are members of the Lock Hospital Memorial Working Group in Carnarvon. Barrington is a Yamaji woman and scholar at Curtin University who researches the history of the lock hospitals of Bernier and Dorre Islands (1908-1919); Musulin is a Malgana and Yawuru woman, and Dorey is a Malgana/Yinggarda man, and they are working with a group committed to ensuring acknowledgement of the history of medical incarceration. Read more here.
Follow @NgingarnBadimia Follow @klkjbtdFollow@bobby_dorey
Associate Professor Rhonda Wilson – Digital steps forward in mental health
Wilson will be tweeting from the University of of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. She says: As an Aboriginal person and mental health nursing specialist from Australia, I pay respect to the Elders, and culture of Greenlands Inuit First Nations people in the region where I currently live and work. I champion culturally respectful and safe e mental health care as a meaningful contribution to the safe and effective response to the vast need to address mental illness and psychological distress experienced by First Nations people throughout the world. I will be incorporating a world view of Indigenous health this year and demonstrating the capacity we have as Indigenous people to influence and lead world health from my post as Associate Professor in E Mental Health on the other side of the world! Hopefully I can inspire others to step out into the exciting opportunities that exist to improve First Nations health in any sphere of their influence – locally, regionally, nationally and even globally. Every little step helps!
Luke Pearson – What does it take to move forward?
Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, who founded @IndigenousX in 2012. He left his professional career as a primary school teacher in 2008, but continued to take an interest in education and advocacy both professionally and voluntarily. Throughout his various involvements Luke has been a teacher, mentor, counsellor, public speaker, collaborator, mediator, facilitator, events manager, researcher, evaluator, reporter and much more. Somewhere along the line he started a Twitter account…His engaging content and manner was well received by tweeps, and in 2012, Luke gifted away the 5000 followers he had amassed, and created the @IndigenousX account. The idea of the account was to share and enhance the platform he had created by providing an opportunity for 52 other Indigenous people per year to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences.
Dr Lynore Geia – Wrapping up #IHMayDay18
Watch this interview
During the interview, Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey and Dr Lynore Geia stress the importance of self-determination for health, including plans for a community controlled health primary health service on Palm Island.
“The important thing is, if we are to determine our health outcomes and the future of our next generation, they need to be in the driver’s seat and not sitting in the back of the bus,” said Lacey.
Lacey also pays tribute to many Elders, past and present, who have worked to improve health on Palm Island, remembering the days when the local health service was called “the Panadol hospital”.
“Every time you went to the hospital, even for a very serious matter, you walked out the door with a Panadol in your hand,” he said. “Those old people knew that that wasn’t what we wanted here on Palm.”
Geia stressed the importance of the new primary health care centre being staffed by local people.
“I would love to see registered nurses, doctors, physiotherapists be back here working in community in the primary health care centre; that to me is making our future; it’s really important having our own self determination to lead the way in health,” she said.
Geia is holding her 18-month-old grandson Tyberius during the interview and describes what she would like for his future:
“I’d like to see Tyberius be able to be a strong Aboriginal man; be able to step forward in the world knowing his culture, knowing his identity as a Bwgcolman man, to pursue whatever career he wants to pursue; really to be, when he has his own children, to be a good father…
All I want for him is that he is able to grow and be sound in his life and then to walk strong as a Murri man with his family.”
As for her wishes for #IHMayDay18, Geia said she hopes the event will “promote and to show the strengths of my community, my home, Palm Island but also to reach out to other communities because I know there’s lots of strong communities out there. We’re in this together as First Nations people. My hope and my wish is that we are all in this together, to walk forward together as First Nations people but also for Australia as well, to close that gap between us.”
We acknowledge and thank all previous #IHMayDay guest tweeters and participants, as well as previous co-hosts of #IHMayDay, including:
• #IHMayDay17 was supported by Professor Peter Radoll, Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy; the University of Canberra Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative (UC CIRI); the Faculty of Arts and Design (Associate Professor Kerry McCallum); and the Faculty of Health (Dr Holly Northam).
• #IHMayDay16 was supported by Professor Bronwyn Carlson and Dr Tanja Dreher at the University of Wollongong.
• #IHMayDay15 was supported by James Cook University School of Nursing and Midwifery.